What Do 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Mean on LinkedIn – Understanding Connection Degrees


LinkedIn is the most popular social media network for professionals. It is the place where some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, recruitment managers, and startup founders like to scour for talent. Naturally, it’s also the best platform for networking. 

Networking is one of the most critical skills for success. Despite what you may have read in the past, success is no longer dependent exclusively on a person’s work ethic or talent.

A soft skill like networking is sought after by professionals in almost all industries, and it could help you get the jump in the career you have been looking for.

lead generation discount

Contrary to what most people think, LinkedIn isn’t just a platform where you can showcase your resume. It’s a place for making connections and building your network. You can’t do that without being active on the platform. A healthy network could help you spot opportunities early. 

LinkedIn also prioritizes networking by establishing degrees of connections. For sales prospecting, there’s hardly a better choice than LinkedIn. You can quickly pinpoint potential leads with relative ease on the platform. However, LinkedIn has a set of guidelines that all users must follow. 

Each member of your network is known as a connection on LinkedIn. If you look carefully, you might notice 1st, 2nd, or 3rd written beside a connection name. But what does 1st, 2nd, 3rd mean on LinkedIn? It’s essential to understand what these numbers denote as you go about looking for sales prospects.

What Does 1st, 2nd, 3rd Mean on LinkedIn?

To put it simply, these numbers are connection degrees. LinkedIn classifies each connection by degree, and it merely indicates how closely you are connected to these people. This makes it easy for professionals to identify who to connect with quickly. Here’s what each of these LinkedIn connections means.

1st Degree Connections

1st-degree connections are people that you have connected with directly. This could be either because they accepted your invitation to connect or vice versa. Whenever you open their profile, you’ll see the 1st-degree icon appear next to their name. This will also show up in search results. You can send a message to your 1st-degree connections on LinkedIn. Here’s an example:

1st degree linkedin connection

2nd Degree Connections

A 2nd-degree connection is a professional who is connected to your 1st-degree connections. You can send them an invitation to join your network by clicking the Connect button on their profile. You can also see if you have any mutual connections with them. You can also contact 2nd-degree connections via InMail. Here’s how a 2nd-degree connection looks like:

2nd degree linkedin connection

3rd Degree Connections

3rd-degree connections are professionals who are connected to your 2nd-degree connections. You will see a “3rd” appear beside their name in search results and on their profile. For 3rd degree connections, it’s not always possible to connect with them. If you can see their full first and last name, you will also see the Connect button.

However, if you only see the initial of their last name, you won’t connect with them. However, you can send them an InMail. Here’s how LinkedIn shows 3rd-degree connections:

3 degree linkedin connection

Until 2019, regular LinkedIn users could view pages that included 3rd degree LinkedIn connections. However, that’s no longer possible. It’s probably a push by LinkedIn to monetize the platform. Put, for B2B professionals, this means that you need access to LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find those good leads. If you have access to Sales Navigator, you can run use Boolean Search to segment your audience effectively. 

What About Other LinkedIn Users?

If you have joined a few LinkedIn groups, you can also see profiles of fellow members. They will be considered part of your group. You can scroll to the Highlights section to see which groups you both share. You can contact such members directly via the group or by sending them a message on LinkedIn.

Similarly, members who do not fall into any of the categories given above will not be visible to you. You might even see “LinkedIn Member” instead of their name, depending on their visibility settings. As you continue to build connections on the platform, you will eventually see more profiles.

Otherwise, you can always use InMail to message them. 

What Do These Connections Mean for Sales Professionals?

LinkedIn is a fantastic platform for finding excellent B2B prospects and leads. With a LinkedIn automation tool like Growth-X, you can easily segment your audience and run targeted campaigns designed to help you pinpoint your prospects.

Growth-X simplifies LinkedIn automation by providing users a safe platform to craft their campaigns.

They have a team of highly experienced Customer Success Managers who work closely with clients to help create message sequences and campaigns that yield great results. From guiding you on creating personalized LinkedIn connection requests to tailoring your campaign based on your goals, Growth-X can help you maximize your B2B lead generation on the platform. 

Here is a comparison table for a better understanding:

linkedin connections comparisson

* Only possible if the last name is visible. If full names are not displayed, they can only be contacted via InMail message.

Different Connection Degrees and Visibility

Depending upon the degree of your connection with professionals in the network and your privacy settings, your visibility will vary. By default, your profile will be visible to any member on LinkedIn who has signed on to the platform. However, there are certain things that you should know about what your LinkedIn connections can see.

What Can 1st Degree Connections See?

By default, your personal information and contact details are always visible to your 1st-degree connections. If you have sent a Connection invite to any other member on the platform, they will also be able to see these details. If someone sends you an InMail and you respond to it, this information will also be able to them.

Similarly, those you have emailed in the past, or whose emails you have responded to, can also view your contact information. Your 1st-degree connections can also see other members in your network (unless you put this on private).

Get more LinkedIn leads

What Can 2nd Degree Connections See on LinkedIn?

Similarly, 2nd-degree connections can also see your profile, though they won’t be able to view your contact information. If you want to hide certain things from 2nd-degree connections, go to Settings in your account, and choose “Your Connections” under “Who Can See Your Activity Feed.”

What Can 3rd Degree Connections See?

Your 3rd-degree connections will also be able to view your LinkedIn profile in total, though they won’t see contact information. You have the option of hiding certain things that you want, though it’s not a good approach if you’re going to expand your network. 

Why Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator?

The LinkedIn Sales Navigator is one of the best tools for sales professionals. There’s no better way to identify prospects and leads and communicate with them. Sales Navigator gives you an array of powerful tools to help you optimize your search and tailor your audience accordingly.

Depending upon the kind of people you are looking for, you can add a range of filters to segment your audience as best as possible. This makes it easy for sales professionals to customize their outreach approach and develop tailored strategies to reach out and nurture prospects.

You can create comprehensive targeting lists to optimize your marketing efforts. Since cold outreach is an essential part of the sales process for many businesses, Sales Navigator allows you to use the customer persona you have created and eventually approach them directly. 

LinkedIn Sales Navigator allows sales professionals to create a hyper-focused approach for identifying and nurturing leads with varying degrees of connections.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why can’t I see the connect button for individual profiles?

If the Connect button is not visible, it could be because your email was not confirmed, you’ve sent them a connection request before, or the member falls outside your network. Only InMail allows you to send messages to members who aren’t in your network.

Should I randomly connect with people on LinkedIn?

That’s a terrible idea. You should only connect with people that you know or those with whom you share an interest. Remember, LinkedIn is for professionals. 

What’s the maximum network limit?

LinkedIn caps 1st-degree connections to 30,000. The platform encourages users to regularly optimize their relationships and remove those they feel are no longer mutually beneficial.

When does a LinkedIn request expire?

All LinkedIn requests expire after six months. 

Starting his career at McCann Erickson as a creative copywriter at only 20 years old, he showed creative thinking and writing for brand ad campaigns in ATL and BTL. He got invited to be a part of Fast Media Management as team coordinator and scaled his way up to be a partner and the agency’s Chief Operating Officer. Later on, the company was renamed Fast Media Group. Today, Dan spends his days working from Israel building relationships for FMG and creating alliances with other digital marketing bulls, such as Growth-X.